The Confederate flag is still flying in front of the state capitol building in Columbia, South Carolina. This hasn't always been the case. For decades, it was actually not officially shown there, but in 1962, it was raised over the Capitol, as a sign of protest against the civil rights movement.
The New York Times explained the history in an article from 1997:
South Carolina is the only state that flies the Confederate battle flag over its Capitol, a gesture that many whites see as a tribute to their Southern heritage but that many blacks see as a symbol of latent racism. The flag was first raised over the Capitol in 1962, largely to express defiance of the civil rights movement.
In the late 1990's, the confederate flag was still flying over the Capitol. But there was a push to remove it from there, and finally, a "compromise" was reached.
From the Washington Post reported yesterday:
The flag came down from atop the South Carolina State House in July of 2000. In a compromise that didn’t really satisfy anyone, it was moved to a nearby Confederate war memorial.
“At the ceremony moving the flag off the dome and to the new location on the capitol grounds, pro-flag activists chanted, ‘Off the dome, and in your face,'” according to “The Politics of Race and Citizenship.” “Antiflag protesters, unsatisfied with the compromise, countered, ‘Shame.'”
The law that moved the flag was quite detailed: The flag could not fly from the capitol dome, but had to appear at a memorial near the dome and could appear in legislators’ offices. Legislators even specified the type of flag, its placement, and the dimensions of its display.
“This flag must be flown on a flagpole located at a point on the south side of the Confederate Soldier Monument, centered on the monument, ten feet from the base of the monument at a height of thirty feet,” it read. “The flagpole on which the flag is flown and the area adjacent to the monument and flagpole must be illuminated at night and an appropriate decorative iron fence must be erected around the flagpole.”
Anyone who wanted to move the flag faced one of the greatest hurdles in democratic politics: “The provisions of this section may only be amended or repealed upon passage of an act which has received a two-thirds vote on the third reading of the bill in each branch of the General Assembly,” the bill read.
A further obstacle to critics of the Confederate flag: It’s affixed to the pole, and can’t come down unless someone gets up there and pulls it down — which would be illegal anyway.
So in 2000 a pretty terrible compromise was reached, and it is just stunning to hear that only a two-third majority of votes will be able to move the confederate flag!
This provision now will start to haunt the South Carolina legislators, because there is no doubt that the movement demanding that the flag should be removed will grow stronger and stronger.
The reason is obvious - just look at this photo of shooter Dylann Roof, and everyone will understand:
This flag is not just "heritage", it has become a symbol for murder - and this is also not a new development.
Also, this fact has been known for many years. Read the New York Times from January 24, 1997, the article I mentioned above:
But the Governor, 39, surprised many of his supporters last November by calling for a compromise that would move the flag to a Confederate memorial on the Capitol grounds. Mr. Beasley said that after a series of racial incidents in the state, including arsons at black churches, he concluded that extremists had misappropriated the flag. Business leaders, many with close ties to Mr. Beasley, have called for removing the flag as a way to stimulate investment in the state.
Well, you can argue whether it has been "misappropriated" or was racist in the first place, but in any case, everybody should know by now: The confederate flag has been a symbol of hate for many years.
Other commentators agree - from the "Atlantic":
Last night, Dylann Roof walked into a Charleston church, sat for an hour, and then killed nine people. Roof’s crime cannot be divorced from the ideology of white supremacy which long animated his state nor from its potent symbol—the Confederate flag. Visitors to Charleston have long been treated to South Carolina’s attempt to clean its history and depict its secession as something other than a war to guarantee the enslavement of the majority of its residents. This notion is belied by any serious interrogation of the Civil War and the primary documents of its instigators. Yet the Confederate battle flag—the flag of Dylann Roof—still flies on the Capitol grounds in Columbia.
The Confederate flag’s defenders often claim it represents “heritage not hate.” I agree—the heritage of White Supremacy was not so much birthed by hate as by the impulse toward plunder. Dylann Roof plundered nine different bodies last night, plundered nine different families of an original member, plundered nine different communities of a singular member. An entire people are poorer for his action. The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it. That the Confederate flag is the symbol of of white supremacists is evidenced by the very words of those who birthed it:
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth...
This moral truth—“that the negro is not equal to the white man”—is exactly what animated Dylann Roof. More than any individual actor, in recent history, Roof honored his flag in exactly the manner it always demanded—with human sacrifice.
In the comments to our previous post, the questions was raised whether the removal of the confederate flag would motivate other extremists to start attacks. However, I do not believe that this argument is convincing, for the simple fact that any action against extremism could trigger more extremism. There is in my opinion only one way to combat extremism, and this includes racism: To make a stand against it. To show others that these opinions are not accepted. That it is not about heritage, but about a symbol which is embraced by the "dark side", and has been embraced by the racists and extremists for many years.
NAACP National President Cornell William Brooks was absolutely correct in my view yesterday to call for the removal of the confederate flag from the state capitol in South Carolina, calling the flag "an inspiration for hate, an inspiration for violence":
The flag is not only an insult to black citizens. It is also an insult to any American who condemns racism and violence.
Unfortunately, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham proved again that he is absolute moron, rejecting the demands to take down the flag:
A flag is an important symbol. Now more than ever, the USA needs the right symbols, the appropriate symbols, in times where the country feels new divisions within society, divisions which supposedly did not exist any more.
The Obama-presidency unfortunately gave a boost to an extreme right-wing movement, starting with the Tea Party, and people like Dylann Roof are being caught up in this extremist movement as well, as his "manifesto" proves, which was now discovered, as Gawker reported. He published this on his own website, lastrhodesian.com.
From his long manifesto (the website is now overloaded, a PDF-copy is HERE) - NOTE - Also preserved via the Wayback Machine HERE:
I was not raised in a racist home or environment. Living in the South, almost every White person has a small amount of racial awareness, simply beause of the numbers of negroes in this part of the country. But it is a superficial awareness. Growing up, in school, the White and black kids would make racial jokes toward each other, but all they were were jokes. Me and White friends would sometimes would watch things that would make us think that “blacks were the real racists” and other elementary thoughts like this, but there was no real understanding behind it.
The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders. I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?
From this point I researched deeper and found out what was happening in Europe. I saw that the same things were happening in England and France, and in all the other Western European countries. Again I found myself in disbelief. As an American we are taught to accept living in the melting pot, and black and other minorities have just as much right to be here as we do, since we are all immigrants. But Europe is the homeland of White people, and in many ways the situation is even worse there. From here I found out about the Jewish problem and other issues facing our race, and I can say today that I am completely racially aware.
The complete ZIP-folder with the photos of Dylann Roof, which he himself uploaded to his website, can be accessed HERE.
It is time to make a stand against division and hate.
If politicians all over the country had made a firm stand against racism much earlier, these people could still be alive today:
Next on the list: We have to make a stand against the free availability of guns.
Kathleen found this on facebook - a seven-year-old girl made this drawing about the shooting in Charleston: